Strategy

Reviewed: Mob Rules

Following a 2009 memoir about his mobbed-up life and the launch of a consultancy business, Mob Rules is Ferrante’s latest effort to leverage his underworld past.

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MOB RULES: What the Mafia Can Teach the Legitimate Businessman
(Portfolio Penguin)
Louis Ferrante

It’s a gimmick, but an entertaining one. Ferrante’s credibility comes from his ex-mafioso status, a conversion to author and motivational speaker that took root during years spent behind bars. Following a 2009 memoir about his mobbed-up life and the launch of a consultancy business, Mob Rules is Ferrante’s latest effort to leverage his underworld past.

He does so in a lively fashion. And though Bay Street types might chafe at the comparison, Ferrante’s anecdotes from life in La Cosa Nostra make as good a framework as any for conveying maxims about getting ahead in the business world. A story about Mafia associate Gus Farace’s 1989 murder of a DEA agent, for example, serves as a parable about respecting the chain of command. The murder visited an unwelcome amount of attention on the mob, so the family boss decreed that one of Farace’s associates should do the honourable thing and get rid of the man who spawned the scrutiny. “[He] should kill Farace, or kill himself,” the Don said—and when the associate refused, the associate himself was offed. The author’s lesson: Don’t be a “sucker” about obeying the boss, but know that the alternative is anarchy. “Respect [the chain of command] at the bottom. Enforce it at the top.”